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THE O.J. SIMPSON MURDER TRIAL

UCLA law professor Peter Arenella and Loyola Law School professor Laurie Levenson offer their take on the Simpson trial. They are joined by defense lawyer Albert De Blanc Jr., who will rotate with other experts as the case moves forward. Today’s Topic: Ito’s here, for now.

PETER ARENELLA

On the defense: “The defense’s good fortune continues. They have the tapes that could turn this trial into a referendum on the LAPD instead of O.J.'s guilt or innocence. And they still have the judge whose previous rulings make the admission of some of these tapes a safe bet. To undermine the defense strategy, the prosecution must concede that Mark Fuhrman is a racist cop while pointing out how little of their case rests on his credibility or his actions.”

On the prosecution: “Having come close to derailing the trial for weeks so that a new judge could become its ringmaster, the prosecution changed its mind. Realizing that Judge Lance Ito’s removal might result in mistrial if exhausted jurors refused to accept delay, prosecutors decided that finishing the trial is more important than getting a judge who might give the defense less latitude in their attempt to put Fuhrman and the LAPD on trial.”

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LAURIE LEVENSON

On the defense: “Things stayed on track. Thanks to prosecutors’ change of heart, Ito will decide what portions of Fuhrman’s tapes will be heard by the jury. The defense desperately wanted to keep Ito, and their wish was granted. They were less successful in spinning their case with the public. The Goldmans reminded everyone of the focus of this case--the brutal deaths of two victims. LAPD lab director Michele Kestler added little to the defense case.”

On the prosecution: “Sometimes it helps to think things over. Prosecutors seemed to realize they have had success before Ito and that he is unlikely to allow wholesale portions of the Fuhrman tapes into evidence. Then, Chris Darden let off steam and got back to trying the case. He hurt the defense where it really counts--in his cross of Kestler. He showed that the defense was misconstruing lab reports and that those reports don’t show blood was planted.”

ALBERT DE BLANC JR.

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On the defense: “Today the trial went global for the defense. Every aspect of their case was discussed except jury composition. Between judges Ito and Reid, it will be decided whether Ito remains. Assuming Johnnie Cochran is correct that Capt. Margaret York has no relevant information, the defense will have their wish and Ito will stay. It would appear, though, that Robert Shapiro lost the battle of the lawyers Wednesday; Darden seemed to speak from his heart.”

On the prosecution: “The best thing going for prosecutors Wednesday was the statement by the Goldman family severely criticizing defense tactics. The prosecution now has the difficult task of damage control on the Fuhrman issue. It appears clear that the use of racial epithets will come before the jury as the result of some fine lawyering by F. Lee Bailey. It will be interesting to see how, if at all, the prosecution can rehabilitate or excuse Fuhrman.”

Compiled by HENRY WEINSTEIN / Los Angeles Times


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